Israeli startup promises unbreakable encryption for the Internet of Things


Even the most advanced cryptography can theoretically be cracked with enough time and processing power, but that’s the least of an organization’s network protection worries. A much more tangible concern is the fact that conventional security protocols suffer from certain design flaws that hackers are potentially able to exploit in order to simply bypass their encryption, a weakness that Secret Double Octopus Ltd. promises to remove with a new approach described as unbreakable both in theory and practice.

The Israeli startup emerged from stealth this morning to reveal a service that applies the so-called “secret sharing” scheme commonly used in the protection of cryptographic keys directly to the data such keys are ordinarily used to scramble. The software works by splitting up a given file into small chunks that are randomized and transmitted to the desired destination through different routes, where the recipient has to perfectly reassemble the payload in order to view the information inside. The arrangement makes interception effectively impossible.

To access a sensitive document protected by Secret Double Octopus, a hacker would need to identify the network paths through which the individual data shards travel, compromise each one and then put everything together. The number of variables that have to be taken into account before pulling that off in a real-life situation is so staggeringly large that the startup’s software is able to match the level of protection afforded by conventional cryptography, except without most of the downsides.

Secret Double Octopus doesn’t make use of keys that can be potentially stolen to unlock the scrambled data, nor does it have to rely on network security protocols to transmit shards over the web. That means the software isn’t susceptible to exploits such as the Poodle vulnerability that was discovered in the open-source OpenSSH standard last year. In fact, the startup says that information under its protection can even be transmitted over unsafe connections since whoever happens to be listening in will never have all the pieces of a file.

Where the technology could prove most useful is securing the growing number of connected devices that organizations are deploying to collect information about their field operations, which often has to travel hundreds of miles before reaching the closest data center. Secret Double Octopus is also targeting mobile workers who likewise often access the corporate network from remote locations, as well as the regular internal traffic that flows among the different branches of a global enterprise. It’s claiming that several unnamed “renowned companies” have already taken an interest in adopting the technology.

Image via JavadR